TO OUR WEST ORANGE WINDERMERE FAMILY
FROM MAYOR GARY BRUHN
One week ago I and all of Central Florida received the news that another police officer, a Windermere Police Officer, had been senselessly killed. Robert “Robbie” German was shot and killed around 4:00 AM in the morning. All too often we read of the senseless tragedy of men and women sworn to protect and serve us being killed in the line of duty. He left behind a mother and father, sisters, a family, and a town that he loved… and a town that loved him. And this was just five weeks after another tragic loss of Deputy Pine.
I have always taken great pride in the fact that Windermere is one of the safest communities in Orange County. That’s why I chose to make it my home almost 30 years ago. And Robbie’s mother told me she took great comfort in the fact that he was working in Windermere, for she thought her son would always be safe. Sadly, no one is ever completely immune from violence.
The past week has been very difficult for all of us in Windermere. The impact upon all of West Orange County, and especially my Town of Windermere cannot be measured. It is a tragic loss that affected all of us on a personal basis. And as I reflect upon the past week, there is one thing that can be measured. And that is how, once again, all of Central Florida came together to provide comfort and support for a community in need.
For anyone who knew young Officer Robert “Robbie” German, he always spoke of his love for the job, his love for our town, and how being a police officer meant being a part of the community.
This week he would have been proud of how we became one community… and in my opinion… one family. The outpouring of support from our cities, Mayor Jacobs, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings and the OCSO, Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger and the SCSO, the Ocoee, Apopka and Sanford Police Departments, the Florida Highway Patrol, so many other local government police departments and agencies, the First Baptist Church of Windermere and too many others to mention, all helped our small town know that we were never alone.
Robbie was family. He was part of our Police Department family and I want to express my pride in the way that our Police officers have handled this difficult situation with strength and courage.
He was also family to our staff. It has been very difficult for me to walk into our offices and see the pain that they feel, yet, they knew what had to be done. They did not compromise what our residents expect in service, they did their job and then they did what had to be done to honor and respect their friend and brother, Robbie German.
For our Windermere family… a simple call for volunteers brings an army. A request for help brings hundreds of helping hands. A request for blue ribbons brings a sea of blue and a request to honor a fallen son brings thousands of friends, neighbors and loved ones, For that, I thank you.
We can measure the strength of a community in the actions of their leadership during the most difficult of times. We always hope that we have a team that can not only lead when times are easy, but during the worst of times, they can provide that same leadership. The worst of times can bring out the best in people. And our leadership team of Town Manager Robert Smith and Chief David Ogden showed that leadership. And for that, I, our Council and residents thank you.
Every day God gives us the opportunity to decide how we live. Most people don’t know the Officer German that I and our town know. I want to share with you the decisions that Robbie German made. When he was called to a situation where he had to calm an autistic young man, he took control of the situation. As a result, he was injured and had to have surgery. He returned to duty behind the desk and he hated it. Every time I saw him I would joke… you’re really taking advantage of this light duty aren’t you? He wanted to be back on the road and he would tell me so constantly.
He returned to work less than 2 weeks ago. He worked on Monday and Tuesday, was off Wednesday and Thursday, and went on duty Friday night. It was his third day back to work. And sadly, his shift was actually over. He could have gone home, but his fellow police officers said he would never let them pick up what he could have finished. He did what he felt he needed to do to protect all of us. It was 4:00 AM, but he did what he was sworn to do.
He gave his life… at 4:00 AM. That is a hero. He didn’t want to die for us. No one would. But he took an oath that if he had to, he would. And sadly, he did.
To all of our friends and neighbors, I thank you as part of our family. You are part of the Windermere family and the German family. As you go off to work this week, stop and remember all of those other first responders who made the ultimate sacrifice. Think about all of the other men and women who have also made that sacrifice, and those who put on their uniform every day to serve and protect all of us, never knowing what that next person may have in mind.
Honor them by putting a blue light in your porch light, put a blue ribbon on your mailbox, or make a contribution to the Robert German Memorial Fund at any Wells Fargo Bank. Thousands of two dollar donations can make a difference.
During his candlelight service Friday night in Windermere, I told those in attendance that Officer Robert German was still with us, and this is what he would want us to know.
You fall… you rise. You make mistakes, you live … you learn. You’re human… and you’re not perfect. Sometimes there is sadness in our journey, but there is also a lot of beauty right here in Windermere. We must keep putting one foot in front of the other… even when we hurt, for we will never know what is waiting for us just around the bend if we don’t try.
That’s what we do as a family. And that is what we will do to honor this man.
Mayor Gary Bruhn